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Asia tourism reopens with big-spending Chinese stuck at home

Asia’s gradual easing of international travel curbs is proving a welcome relief for the region’s hard-hit tourism operators slowly opening up to visitors from around the world – with one giant exception.

China, previously the world’s largest outbound tourism market, is keeping international air capacity at just 2% of pre-pandemic levels and has yet to relax tight travel restrictions as it sticks to zero tolerance for COVID-19.

That has left a $255 billion annual spending hole in the global tourism market for operators such as Thailand’s Laguna Phuket to try and fill.

Managing director Ravi Chandran says Laguna Phuket’s five resorts have shifted their marketing focus to Europe, the United States and United Arab Emirates to make up for the loss of Chinese visitors, who accounted for 25%-30% of its pre-COVID business.

“Up to today, we have not done significant marketing or promotion in China … because we don’t feel anything coming our way,” Chandran said.

The pandemic has cost Thailand an estimated $50 billion a year in tourism revenue and Chinese were above-average spenders based on tourism ministry data.

Thailand hopes to receive 180,000 foreign tourists this year, a fraction of around 40 million it received in 2019, as it opened places beyond Phuket to tourists on Monday.

Many experts expect China to keep such stringent measures such as up to a three-week quarantine for those returning home until at least the second quarter of next year and possibly then open gradually on a country-by-country basis.

“Destinations have to identify new source markets and learn how to market and cater to different cultures,” Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Chief Executive Liz Ortiguera said, citing the Maldives as a rare example of a successful pivot during the pandemic.

The string of islands in the Indian Ocean promoted itself heavily at trade shows and attracted more Russian and Indian visitors to its luxury resorts and sparkling waters.

China had been its greatest source of tourists before the pandemic but the Maldives saw overall arrivals in the first nine months of 2021 fall just 12% versus the same period of 2019.

“When we realised that Chinese travellers weren’t coming to the Maldives any time soon, we switched our focus to other key markets including Russia,” said a spokesperson for COMO Hotels and Resorts, which has two Maldives resorts.


Travel data firm ForwardKeys estimates it will take until 2025 for Chinese outbound travel to recover to pre-pandemic levels. That will also force airlines to re-evaluate their routes given its data shows 38% of Chinese tourists took foreign carriers in 2019.

Even as Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia’s Bali gradually open up for international travellers, Thai Airways (THAI.BK) and Garuda Indonesia (GIAA.JK) are drastically shrinking their fleets as part of restructuring plans amid the absence of Chinese tourists.

When China does open its borders, industry surveys show a reluctance by many to travel internationally due to COVID-19 fears.

There has also been a boom in domestic holidays to Hainan Island which now offers duty free shopping in a threat to future visits to nearby destinations such as Hong Kong and South Korea.

“I honestly do not have much enthusiasm for international travel,” said at Kat Qi, 29, a researcher in Beijing who travelled to Southeast Asia and Britain before the pandemic. “A lot of places that I wanted to visit are in less developed countries with gorgeous natural scenery and they tend to be the least vaccinated countries.”

Her preference for natural scenery is also a trend emerging in surveys of Chinese travellers. Many are focused on the outdoors at a time when domestic camping holidays have become popular and tourism operators will need to adapt accordingly, experts say.

“The market will have changed so the Chinese people travelling in 2022 will be different from the Chinese travelling in 2019,” said Wolfgang Georg Arlt, CEO of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. “I think the trends will go away from this shopping and rushing around.”

Large group tours that have also fallen out of favour on domestic trips could also be a thing of the past, to be replaced by independent travel and smaller customised tours with family and friends, said Sienna Parulis-Cook, director of marketing and communications at advisory firm Dragon Tail International.

“You might have organised travel and everything but it would be with a small group of people that you know, rather than 50 strangers on a tour bus,” she said.


Robotics operation in travel and tourism industry set to grow, says GlobalData

The utilization of robotics will continue to grow in importance in the travel and tourism industry. However, companies need to be sensitive in how they deploy this form of smart technology, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to a recent GlobalData poll*, 31% of the respondents stated that their company will invest in robotics in the next 12 months, with robotics being the third most popular answer for this question, above the likes of IoT and cloud. A significant contributing reason as to why business executives and employees think that investment in robotics will increase is due to the long-term cost savings this technology can provide along with its ability to meet the sudden changes in consumer demands.

Ralph Hollister, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Prior to the pandemic, the utilization of robotics in tourism was mainly seen as a gimmick. Robot butlers in hotels would provide good Instagram opportunities for guests, creating exposure for the accommodation provider, and customer service robots at airports would entertain guests to reduce feelings of boredom. These same robots are now a necessity for the likes of hotels and airports due to the need for COVID-safe experiences.”

According to GlobalData**, 74% of global consumers are is still either ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ concerned regarding the impact of COVID-19. These robots reduce the need for human contact, which increases safety for travelers across multiple stages during their trip.

It is also no secret that COVID-19 has battered the finances of many companies involved in travel and tourism. Although the initial cost of investing in robotics to replace human jobs will be high, many companies will recover what they have invested in just a short number of years. Subsequently, companies will then continue to shrink fixed costs and increase profit margins.

Mr. Hollister concludes: “Investing too heavily in robotics to replace human jobs could tarnish brand image. Travel and tourism employment has fallen substantially across the globe due to the pandemic, and many consumers will feel that it is a company’s social responsibility to employ people in need of work as travel recovers, especially if they have appropriate skill sets. Filling vacancies with robots could be deemed as insensitive in the current climate, especially in destinations that heavily rely on tourism as a key contributor to the local economy.

“Through increasing operational efficiency and improving traveler confidence, robotics in tourism will continue to grow. However, companies need to ensure that they are not seen to be shunning their social commitments. It must be emphasized that the robots are deployed to work alongside humans, not instead of them.”


Australia on track to reopen ‘by Christmas at the latest,’ says tourism minister

(CNN) — Australia is on track to allow borders to reopen by Christmas, the country’s minister for trade, tourism and investments said on Wednesday, September 22.”I do empathize with the Australians who have been denied the opportunity to travel overseas this year,” Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said during a talk that was organized by the National Press Club of Australia but broadcast online due to coronavirus restrictions. He added: “It’s another reason why everyone should get vaccinated and we have to stick to the national plan that will see our international border open up — at this rate by Christmas at the latest.”

Earlier this week, Tehan laid out some of the tasks that will need to happen to get the country on the road to reopening.”It’s incredibly important that we’re doing that preparatory work,” he said. One of those action items is passing the 80% national vaccination rate. As of September 22, about 38% of Australians had received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine. The national vaccine rollout has been so vital that Australia’s tourism board created a special domestic ad urging people to get jabbed. The “It’s Our Best Shot for Travel” campaign was unveiled on August 16. “We need to claim back our way of life so that we can visit friends and relatives, get back into the workplace, get our kids back to school, travel domestically and internationally again, and welcome the world back to enjoy all that Australia has to offer,” Phillipa Harrison, managing director of Tourism Australia (the country’s official national tourism board) said in a press statement when the campaign debuted.

International visitors to Australia will need to verify that they are fully vaccinated before entering the country. Australia also plans to test out “vaccine passports” with other countries: Singapore, Japan and the United States are reportedly on the list.Tehan has also been coordinating with the aviation industry. Qantas, the country’s national carrier, announced that it would slowly resume international flights beginning in October.

Australia closed its borders to non-residents in March 2020 and employed a mandatory quarantine system, which severely limited the number of people who could return to the country each week. In July, Australian public broadcaster ABC reported that 38,000 Australians were on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s wait list to repatriate. The Australian government also imposed rules largely preventing residents from departing the country.The states of New South Wales (home to Australia’s most populous city, Sydney) and South Australia are piloting programs to allow vaccinated travelers to quarantine at home.Australia has a population of about 25 million. Of that number, there have been 90,369 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1,186 deaths.


Radisson Hotel Group shapes the future of hospitality at its hybrid event, Radisson Live

Today, Radisson Hotel Group is organizing the first edition of Radisson Live. An exclusive hybrid event broadcast simultaneously from four different locations, Radisson Live brings together business leaders as well as industry experts to share insights and knowledge that will further shape the future of hospitality.

Broadcast live and simultaneously from iconic Radisson Hotel Group locations in London (The May Fair, A Radisson Collection Hotel), Frankfurt (Radisson Blu Hotel, Frankfurt), Stockholm (Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, Stockholm), and Dubai (Radisson RED Dubai Silicon Oasis), Radisson Live strives to inspire as well as to expand the attendees’ understanding of the challenges and innovations that will drive the hospitality industry forward.

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the travel and hospitality industry and has drastically changed the way we will travel and conduct business in the future. As more and more countries open their borders, the hospitality industry must think about ways to respond to new market demands. At Radisson Live, we are bringing together key clients, partners, and renowned industry experts to expand our common understanding of the opportunities and innovations that will drive our industry forward, and how working together, we as an industry can respond and shape the future of the travel industry”, says Eric De Neef, Executive Vice President, Global Chief Branding & Commercial Officer Radisson Hotel Group.

Three world-class speakers will share their knowledge in forward-thinking sessions. Richard Quest, CNN Anchor & CNN Business editor-at-large, will dive ‘Inside the mindset of the new business traveler’ and provide insights on how business and leisure travelers will re-discover a world of destinations in this new era of travel, as well as answer questions on how the hospitality industry can deliver a safe experience in a post COVID-19 world without comprising on high-quality service.

Owen Fitzpatrick, international best-selling author and psychologist will host an insightful conversation about the ‘Science of WOW’ to discuss questions such as what kind of content grabs and keeps the brain’s attention as well as what kind of events – both virtual as well as in person – people will want to attend. During his session, Fitzpatrick will also reveal the secret to creating events and content which are impossible to forget.

As Managing Director, EMEA at Encore, Nicholas Rudge is an expert in the events and media sector. In his session ‘Event experiences re-imagined’, Rudge will explore how event experiences will continue to develop in the post COVID-19 world, and how experiences for physical as well as digital event attendees can be blended.

In addition to these world-class speakers and industry experts, business leaders from Radisson Hotel Group will share their insights on: embracing change and ‘The keys to staying alive in transforming a global company’ (Federico J. González, Chief Executive Officer), ‘The fast-growing global footprint of Radisson Hotel Group’ (Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer), as well as ‘How customer centricity is the catalyst for growth’ (Eric de Neef, Executive Vice President, Global Chief Branding & Commercial Officer).

Inge Huijbrechts, Global Senior Vice President Sustainability, Security and Corporate Communications will share insights on ‘How to define a successful sustainability strategy that cares for the planet and the bottom line’, and Giorgi Mindiashvili, Vice President Food & Drink EMEA will be discussing ‘The future of Food and Beverage at Radisson Hotel Group’.

Chema Basterrechea, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer will talk in depth about ‘How to deliver unique guest experiences through fast paced innovation’.

At the event Radisson Hotel Group will also reveal its latest cross brand introduction: Radisson+, an umbrella brand covering all innovation and technological transformations that enhance both the employee and guest experience, enabling a more flexible, efficient, and personalized experience. With Radisson+ guests will be able to choose how they manage their stay, with services like online check-in, AI-enabled service chats and omnichannel e-concierge capabilities. Certain services of Radisson+ are already available across different hotels in EMEA and will also be further rolled out the next months.

Radisson Live uses Radisson Hotel Group’s signature Hybrid meetings technology, using the Radisson Meetings Broadcasting Studios platform for both live attendance as well as live streaming. This event is 100% Carbon Neutral, as are all events at Radisson Hotel Group properties worldwide.

More information on the first edition of Radisson Live can be found here.

Follow the Radisson Hotel Group Twitter account for live updates during the event on the 9th of September.


Six Tourist-Dependent Countries That Would Benefit Most From ‘Regenerative Travel’

Sustainable tourism, aiming to counterbalance social and environmental impacts associated with travel, has morphed into “regenerative travel,” or leaving a place better than you found it.

Regenerative Travel — the next big trend for conscious travelers —tries to ensure that the benefits contributed by visitors outweigh the resources they consume: it’s intentional tourism, to create positive contributions to the quality of life.

Regenerative travel could help reverse the harm the COVID-19 pandemic has caused tourist-dependent countries, by supporting local economies and cultures around the world in a more balanced way.

Nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Responsible Travel and Sustainable Travel International, have joined together as the Future of Tourism coalition, which aims to “build a better tomorrow.” Travel groups, including tour operators and trade associations have signed on to the coalition’s 13 guiding principles, including “demand fair income distribution” and “choose quality over quantity.”

According to the IMF, tourism accounted for 10 percent of global GDP and 320 million jobs worldwide in 2019. Some destinations, like U.S. National Parks and Croatia, are over-touristed, post-pandemic. And some countries are suffering more than others from the lack of tourism.

A recent study by global luggage storage network, Stasher, reveals the ultimate regenerative travel destinations. The shortlist is based on where in the world had a high reliance on tourism before the pandemic, but are now not thriving, according to TikTok and Instagram data.

Whenever you travel, check the latest guidelines and COVID-19 restrictions. Some areas are not ready for tourists. But others are; and if so, perhaps consider their need as part of your decision.

Also consider the most eco-friendly way of getting to your chosen destination. For example, if you fly, you can sign up for a carbon reduction platform, like Treepoints, to help offset your flight’s carbon footprint by donating to certified eco projects on your behalf.

You can explore the full list of regenerative travel destinations here. Below is a shortlist:


% of GDP from tourism: 32.7%; TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 502,013

In 2019, tourism made up over a third of Cambodia’s GDP, yet it’s clearly not a tourist social media hot spot.

You can enjoy R&R on one of its deserted white sandy beaches; hike off-the-beaten track in its jungles and national parks; or explore its ancient past at Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon Temple. And in return, you’ll be supporting the future sustainability of this historic place and its charming people.

Best time to visit: The dry season (November to April), where you’ll enjoy average temperatures of 30°C / 86°F. Explore what Cambodia and other top picks in Southeast Asia have to offer the conscious traveler here.


% of GDP from tourism: 17.4%; TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 4,909

Uruguay benefits from a combination of open space and low population density; over half of Uruguayans live in the capital, Montevideo — a city blending old and new.

Beyond the city’s skyline, you’ll discover countryside with ranches, rustic beaches and vineyards.

Best time to visit: November to March, when the average temperature is 27°C / 80.6°F. Explore what Uruguay and other top picks in South America have to offer the conscious traveler here.


% of GDP from tourism: 27%; TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 197,858

Albania may be Europe’s enigma, but with over 27% of its GDP coming from tourism pre-pandemic, your visit will have a positive impact. The country boasts rugged mountain scenery, Ionian and Adriatic coastlines, fortress towns and ancient Greek and Roman sites.

Best time to visit Albania: June to August, when the average temperature is 24°C / 75.2°F. Explore what Albania and other top picks in Europe have to offer the conscious traveler here.


% of GDP from tourism: 19.8%; TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 187,995

The most popular destinations in the Middle East for travelers pre-COVID-19 included Turkey, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, with tens of millions of tourists visiting annually.

Jordan offers sand-dune surfing at Wadi Rum, floating in the Dead Sea, diving in the Red Sea or exploring ancient civilizations at UNESCO World Heritage sites, most famously the treasured city of Petra.

Best time to visit Jordan: Between March and June, when you can enjoy the spring sunshine and cooler nights. The average temperature for this time of year is 30.3°C / 86.5°F. Explore what Jordan and other top picks in the Middle East have to offer here.


% of GDP from tourism: 55.8%; TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 2,466

The Caribbean archipelago features more than 7,000 individual islands across a million square miles.

Grenada, dubbed the spice isle, relies on tourism for over half of its national GDP each year. It is also relatively undiscovered on social media, with just over 2,000 tags and views.

This island boasts Annandale Falls, Concord Falls, and the Royal Mount Carmel Falls; locally produced rum and chocolate; pretty harbors and soft-sand beaches; and a mountainous lush interior – perfect for hiking.

Best time to visit Grenada: December to April when you can expect an average temperature of 31°C / 87.8°F. Explore what Grenada and other top picks in North and Central America have to offer here.

The Seychelles

% of GDP from tourism: 65.8%; TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 15,050

The islands of the Seychelles, with coral reefs and white sand beaches, has been hit hard by the pandemic, with previously 65% of its GDP coming from tourism.

Once a pirate hideout, the Seychelles now caters to guests looking for luxury. Hiking trails, nature reserves, coral reefs and primeval forests are abundant, and with under 16,000 tags and views on social media, you’ll have the space to enjoy.

Best time to visit the Seychelles: December to April when you can expect an average temperature of 31°C / 87.8°F. Explore what the Seychelles and other top picks in and near Africa have to offer here.


% of GDP from tourism: 72%; TikTok and Instagram tags/views: 393,376

Macau is the only location in China where gambling is legal. Known as the “Las Vegas of the East”, pre-pandemic Macau’s economy relied heavily on tourism, making up 72% of the country’s GDP.

Macau is working to diversify its economy beyond tourism, but it remains a vital industry for the small nation for many years to come.

The old city is a mix of its Portuguese and Chinese heritage, with cathedrals and historic ruins, and local food markets – with treats such as Pastel de Natas or Dim Sum.

Best time to visit Macau: October to November and March to May, where temperatures average 22°C / 71.6°F. Explore what Macau and other top picks in Asia have to offer here.


Europe’s summer tourism outlook dimmed by variants, rules

LONDON (AP) — Chaos and confusion over travel rules and measures to contain new virus outbreaks are contributing to another cruel summer for Europe’s battered tourism industry.

Popular destination countries are grappling with surging COVID-19 variants, but the patchwork and last-minute nature of the efforts as the peak season gets underway threatens to derail another summer.

In France, the world’s most visited country, visitors to cultural and tourist sites were confronted this week with a new requirement for a special COVID-19 pass.

To get the pass, which comes in paper or digital form, people must prove they’re either fully vaccinated or recently recovered from an infection, or produce a negative virus test. Use of the pass could extend next month to restaurants and cafes.

Italy said Thursday that people will need a similar pass to access museums and movie theaters, dine inside restaurants and cafes, and get into pools, casinos and a range of other venues.

At the Eiffel Tower, unprepared tourists lined up for quick virus tests so they could get the pass to visit the Paris landmark. Johnny Nielsen, visiting from Denmark with his wife and two children, questioned the usefulness of the French rules.

“If I get tested now, I can go but then I (could) get corona in the queue right here,” Nielsen said, though he added they wouldn’t change their plans because of it.

Juan Truque, a tourist from Miami, said he wasn’t vaccinated but took a test so he could travel to France via Spain with his mother.

“Now they are forcing you to wear masks and to do similar kind of things that are impositions to you. To me, they are violations to your freedom.” he said.

Europe’s vital travel and tourism industry is desperate to make up after a disastrous 2020. International tourist arrivals to Europe last year plunged by nearly 70%, and for the first five months of this year, they’re down 85%, according to U.N. World Tourism Organization figures.

American, Japanese and Chinese travelers aren’t confident it will be possible to visit and move freely within Europe, the European Travel Commission said. International arrivals are forecast to remain at nearly half their 2019 level this year, though domestic demand will help make up the shortfall.

The U.K.’s statistics office suspended its monthly international passenger data, because it said there aren’t enough people arriving “to provide robust estimates.”

The United States this week upgraded its travel warning for Britain to the highest level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to avoid traveling to the country because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 variants, while the U.S. State Department raised its alert level to “do not travel” from the previous less severe “reconsider travel” advisory.

The recommendations are constantly under review and not binding, although they may affect group tours and insurance rates. Britain’s warning has fluctuated several times this year already.

Some countries are showing signs of a rebound, however.

Spain, the world’s second-most visited country, received 3.2 million tourists from January to May — a tenth of the amount in the same period of 2019. But visits surged in June with 2.3 million arrivals, the best monthly figure since the start of the pandemic, although still only 75% of the figure from two years ago.

Spain’s secretary of state for tourism, Fernando Valdés, credited the European Union’s deployment in June of its digital COVID-19 vaccine passport for having a “a positive impact” on foreign arrivals. That, and the U.K. move to allow nonessential travel, “allowed us to start the 2021 summer season in the best conditions,” he said.

The EU app allows the bloc’s residents to show they’ve been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from the virus.

In Greece, where COVID-19 infections are also rising sharply, authorities have openly expressed concern that slowing vaccination rates could hurt the struggling tourism industry, a mainstay of the economy. Authorities have tightened restrictions for unvaccinated tourists and residents, banning their entry to all indoor dining and entertainment venues.

Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis urged the travel industry to put on a brave face.

“It’s very important that we do not give the impression that we have lost control of the pandemic,” Georgiadis said last week.

Some countries sparked chaos with last-minute changes to entry rules.

Denmark’s decision to upgrade Britain to its “red” list of countries with tighter travel restrictions threw London resident Richard Moorby’s vacation plans into disarray.

Moorby originally planned to go to Copenhagen in August to meet up with his Danish wife and their two children visiting his in-laws — like they did last summer. But under current rules Moorby wouldn’t have been able to travel separately because he’s not Danish. They planned instead to travel together, which they thought would be allowed even after the change — but they missed the announcement’s fine print prohibiting non-Danes from “red list” countries including the U.K. from visiting without a worthy purpose, which doesn’t include tourism.

“It was going to be a bit of a non-holiday anyway,” Moorby said. But “it went from, ‘We’d have a nice holiday in Denmark,’ to ‘well, maybe I can just about get there,’ to ‘I can’t even travel’.”

Meanwhile, the U.K. government unexpectedly announced that travelers coming from France would still have to self-isolate for up 10 days because of worries about the beta variant, frustrating travelers and angering the tourism industry and French government.

Emma and Ben Heywood, the British owners of adventure travel company Undiscovered Montenegro, said booking inquiries are surging after the U.K. government said in the same announcement it would stop advising against travel to countries on its “amber list” and dropped the self-isolation rule for returning travelers.

The couple said bookings last summer plunged to 10% of their usual level but now they’re at 30% and rising fast. Montenegro has a relatively low infection rate and relaxed entry requirements.

“It’s so hard keeping everybody up to date with what’s required to go where, with so many countries and so many different rules involved,” said Ben Heywood.

“It’s a total minefield. Half the emails I’m fielding now are people saying, ‘We definitely want to come. What do we need to do?’”


The 2020 Hospitality and Tourism Trends That Will Likely Stay in 2021 and Beyond

Looking back before we look forward

At year-end 2019, I predicted a few 2020 trends in hospitality, retail, and tourism businesses. For example, I recommended that we should pay special attention to the following areas:

  • A shifting focus on food delivery, sustainable food, and quick-casual restaurants.
  • Using AI and facial recognition in service operations.
  • The threats from Google, Amazon, and Airbnb as a (potential, new) giant tourism enterprise in the market.
  • Investors’ growing interest in boutique retail stores and hotels.
  • Customer loyalty issues as more travel companies adopted the dynamic pricing strategy even in their frequent traveler programs.
  • Safety issues during travel.

Certainly, the global pandemic was not anything I could predict back in 2019, but COVID-19 might have just accelerated many of the foreseeable changes we expected for the future. Moreover, many of the changes we observed in 2020 will very likely stay in 2021 and beyond, including

Delivery and contactless self-service will continue to grow

Delivery service in restaurants and supermarkets, among other sectors, had observed a boost since the pandemic hit in March. Additionally, restaurants, hotels, and airlines have extended or rolled out contactless self-service through mobile apps, kiosks, and facial recognition technology.

A large number of fast-food chains also introduced new restaurant designs that embrace such trends, including double- or triple-drive-thru lanes, conveyor belt delivery, and food lockers for pick-up orders. In some cases, dining rooms become optional, where the restaurants only focus on delivery and pick-up services.

Meanwhile, Amazon began testing Amazon One, a new biometric payment device that relies on cloud and palm recognition technologies. Palm recognition might become a popular biometric tool in the future as it has some advantages over those more commonly used facial or fingerprint recognition technologies.

Home-sharing will remain a large share of the lodging industry

When the pandemic hit, I wondered if home-sharing guests would choose to stay in chain hotels instead due to hotels’ enhanced cleaning standards. It turned out that home-sharing and luxury hotels might recover sooner than other lodging products. Furthermore, Airbnb is ready for IPO in mid-December, targeting $30 to $33 billion.

As we discovered more about home-sharing services through research, such as their 7 P’s marketing mix, consumer preferences of sharing or accessing the accommodation facilities, and Airbnb listings’ agglomeration effect, some hotel chains had already gotten into the home-sharing business. Like Airbnb, hotels’ home-sharing arms are doing well even during the pandemic, which may encourage more hotel chains to enter the home-sharing market.

If COVID-19 becomes a catalyst for more hotel mergers and acquisitions, will more hotels get into the home-sharing market through acquisitions? Or the other way around, will Airbnb acquire a hotel chain or another OTA (online travel agent) site?

Work from home will stay but is not helping business travel

Many companies cut the budget for business travel, and an increasing number of organizations let employees work from home permanently. When fewer people commute or travel for work, the work-from-home trend does not help the hospitality and tourism industry but may stimulate extended-stay hotel growth.

When will travel recovery take place?

Some people believe that COVID-19 will forever change the way people travel. While indicators showed travel and hospitality businesses were picking up in the summer, largely from leisure travelers, nobody can precisely predict what the future holds. Until we can travel again, or more importantly, until people travel for business again, we will not see a real recovery. Right now, it is not a bad idea to target baby boomers for leisure demand.

Other trends

Facebook is losing its charm to certain internet user groups. It becomes critical for us to know where our prospects hang out after they abandon Facebook.

Following the breakthrough results of the COVID-19 vaccines, it is safe to predict coronavirus restrictions will be lifted soon. I hope we will resume our normal routines shortly. Still, it will take a while before we can ease our cautionary measures against the virus.

Source:  Linchi Kwok, Associate Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management | Hospitality Net

New Insights Into How Guests Are Using Airbnb for Longer-Term Stays

Six months ago, we shared how Airbnb and the Airbnb community adapted to meet new consumer needs for longer-term stays as people are seeking to ‘live anywhere.’ From working parents needing space to support their kids with at-home schooling and medical providers needing places to stay near the front lines, to college students booking “collab houses” for remote learning and digital nomads, we’re seeing interesting trends with these types of stays.

Here are key findings from booking data and a global survey we conducted at the end of October 2020 with guests who booked longer-term stays* with Airbnb in the last three months.

Responding to the global pandemic

Based on our survey, COVID was a factor in 54 percent of longer-term stays booked on Airbnb in the last three months. Not surprisingly, longer-term guests are traveling for different reasons than they were pre-COVID. For example, more guests are relocating during COVID than they were pre-COVID (18% vs. 10% pre-COVID).

Guests told us longer-term stays enabled them to escape their daily routines, be closer to loved ones, nature, or outdoor activities, enjoy access to different amenities (like a pool!), have more space, or save money staying somewhere with a lower cost of living.

Staying connected to loved ones and communities

  • Nearly 40% of longer-term stays were booked for one person.
  • Nearly 40% of longer-term stays included two people. Survey respondents shared that the additional person in their booking was most often a significant other.
  • A little more than 20% of longer-term stays were booked for three or more people, with guests most frequently telling us their trips included a significant other and child[ren].

And, most travelers had connections to their destinations:

  • 46% of longer-term trips were taken to places guests visited three or more times in the past, have lived before, or currently live.
  • 54% of guests knew at least one acquaintance in their destination, and often they had friends (26%) or family (24%) there as well.
  • For trips taken within 0-50 miles of home, 78% of guests knew someone in their destination; for trips taken within 300+ miles of home, 63% of guests knew someone in their destination.

Remote work and remote learning

Using Airbnb to live, work, or learn in different locations came in as the top reason for recent longer-term stays:

  • 60% of longer-term guests were working or studying during their stays.
  • 65% of guests working or studying remotely during their stay reported that COVID was a factor in their decision to book a longer-term stay. Most often they reported feeling newfound freedom to temporarily relocate while not commuting to offices or schools.

Amenities and features: high-speed internet is a must-have for all

It’s no surprise that longer trips require different amenities than shorter trips. All longer-term stay travelers rated high-speed internet as their top priority, with proximity to frequent destinations (e.g., nearby family) coming in at number two. When we drilled down into trip types:

  • Leisure travelers looked at proximity to points of interest (e.g., national parks).
  • Remote workers prioritized listings with comfortable workspaces.
  • Large groups leaned toward family-friendly listings.
  • Retirees sought neighborhood walkability.

Guests also told us they chose Airbnb over other platforms because Airbnb made it easy to search for and find the places they were looking for.


Building Total Hotel Guest Revenue for a Profitable Future Through Seamless Self-Serve Capabilities

There have been and still are many necessary changes to hotel operations to specifically address the need for viral safety in the wake of COVID-19. But a better outlook would be to think long-term and understand that much of the shift over the past two quarters would have come about anyway, with the pandemic only markedly catalyzing the urgency for an evolution to the hospitality industry.

Ostensibly, the most profound way hoteliers and property owners can build a profitable hotel in the next normal – and for the next next normal once we are in the clear from crisis – is to abandon a siloed room revenues model, as most identified by metrics like RevPAR and, to a lesser extent, GOPPAR (gross operating profit per available room). With a multitude of factors hindering full occupancies and consistent ADR growth over the next couple years, we instead must look to how we can capture the most revenue per available guest (RevPAG) or total revenue per available guest (TRevPAR) through the proficient convergence of guestrooms, F&B, spa, parking, golf, activities, gift shop and any other chargeable amenity. (To reduce confusion, let’s stick with the RevPAG acronym from here out.)

In today’s hospitality landscape, though, the only realistic way to achieve this goal of generating more ancillary capture is through the deployment of integrated technologies so that the purchase of these amenities is made as easy and as frictionless as possible, all without burdening a hotel’s already overworked teams.

As background research for this central industry development, we sat down with Frank Pitsikalis, Founder and CEO of ResortSuite, a PMS provider based out of our hometown of Toronto, where he added, “What we’ve keenly observed through discussions with our clients is that the post-pandemic traveler wants a high touch hotel experience but without any physical touchpoints. They value privacy above all else, where every service must be available in seamless self-serve manner, both prearrival within the booking engine and via the website or a branded app once guests are onsite.”

Indeed, hotels have already addressed the new demand for this ‘seamless self-serve’ with guest messaging apps, self-check-in or check-out, mobile room keys and a myriad of other software integrations. While these features are essential for safe operations, most aren’t prompting or encouraging guests to spend more. Hence, once the more immediate concerns for Covid are resolved, hoteliers must find ways to optimize revenues from the currently limited pool of customers.

When reviewing what hotels can do in this regard with Pitsikalis, first to mind is having the ability to guide guests through a series of amenities that will enhance their experience right from the room reservation window. From the ResortSuite properties that we demoed together, the most common ways to boost RevPAG were for dining and spa appointment as well as in-room arrival amenities.

One specific resort example highlighted which uses the PMS, the Watergate Bay Hotel near Cornwall in the United Kingdom, has experienced a sizeable increase in online dining and activity reservations since marrying these options to the website’s booking engine. Significantly, with physical distancing measures in place, such prearrival prompting has worked to ensure that hotel guests always have a spot at one of the hotel’s two restaurants without a reservationist or restaurant supervisor having to reach out individually in the week prior. This is due to the reduced capacity allowances whereby walk-ins from locals may swoop in to claim all available seats at the popular eateries, leaving hotel guests without reservations to fend for themselves – and reflecting poorly on the incumbent property.

Whereas before there was some rigidity to properly integrating these points of sale directly with the PMS, the Covid crisis has brought to light a pressing need for holistic integrations like this. Making it easy for guests to book additional services in a contactless manner will not only heighten total revenues and give you deeper data from which to refine your future marketing approach, but it will also help rein in staff costs because manual transfer between disconnected systems is no longer necessary and more prearrival service arrangements will let you better forecast upcoming labor requirements.

As an essential caveat at this juncture, such tech upgrades designed to enhance RevPAG should in no way detract from a hotel’s continued commitment to proper sanitization and cleanliness. Rather, our hypothesis is that these safety promises have rapidly become guest expectations and will not act as core drivers for room bookings. Guest privacy and the ability to deliver a host of services via touchless software portals will in fact work to boost occupancy and overall customer satisfaction.

That is, there is a critical and often understated relationship between post-departure guest survey results and service utilization. The general trendline herein is that the more a visitor uses a hotel’s amenities, the more they will enjoy their stay. With this in mind, getting guests to eat at your restaurant, complete a spa treatment or sign up for a half-day activity will halo positively back onto the core product – the hotel’s rooms – in the form of improved online reviews, word of mouth and return visits.

Given all these clear advantages, prioritizing a RevPAG viewpoint is rapidly becoming a critical step for the future of hotel operations. This is especially apparent for the near-term where leisure guests are a dominant force and groups are slow to recover, but it also holds true for the entire decade ahead in that guests are increasingly digital-fluent and want all services to be straightforwardly accessible in a self-serve format.

My hope is that by explaining how important it is to now connect everything online, you’ll use the months ahead to map out what technologies you need to make it easier for guests to purchase your services. Only then can you maximize total revenue and develop a healthier approach to operating in any travel marketplace.


Carnival Sensation Rescues 24 People Off Florida Coast

Carnival Cruise Line’s ship the Sensation might be in a pause like the rest of the industry, but it was able to fire up the engines and make a dramatic rescue this morning.

The Sensation came to the aid of a small craft in distress in international waters 37 miles off the coast of Palm Beach, Fla., saving 24 people including two children.

The boat had begun taking on water. Upon seeing the craft in the water, Carnival Sensation maneuvered alongside the smaller boat and provided blankets, life jackets, food and water to the people on board, which included individuals from various nationalities.

Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said, “Some ships like the Sensation have been docked in international waters In the Atlantic and Caribbean (seas) during the pause. Some others were repatriating crew members all over the world and then return to join the other ships.”

All 24 individuals saved from the sinking boat were evaluated by Carnival Sensation’s medical team and were quarantined away from crew members.

All appropriate authorities, including the United States Coast Guard (USCG), were notified, and the USCG dispatched a cutter to the scene to retrieve the 24 individuals from the Sensation. There were only limited crew members aboard the Carnival ship and no guests.